Short Circuits 12 - By Volume

...was fond of your writing, it allowed me to see into you... The Hotelier - Discomfort Revisited
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Short Circuits 12

In this edition of Short Circuits: Evian Christ's evolution, R&B vocal interpolations and a unique view into Muslim world before our internet-led, global-connectivity. Author: on December 9, 2013
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Evian ChristSalt Carousel (Tri Angle, 2013)

It’s astonishing, how much can happen over two years. If anyone is testament to that, it’s Evian Christ; one day, retired label-owners and music writers will sit around holographic tablets (or rusty barrel campfires depending on which way the world goes), and they’ll say, “Well, children, let me tell you the story of Evian Christ”, and youngsters will gasp with exhilarating attentiveness. Well, maybe not, but regardless, twenty-four–year-old Joshua Leary has gone from bedroom producing as a trainer teacher to having mysterious YouTube uploads prompt a deal with zeitgeist imprint Tri Angle Records, working on Yeezus and joining Kanye West’s production team. His latest solo production “Salt Carousel” is a far cry from his breakthrough mixtape Kings and Them, which dealt a slight of minimalism to squeeze large amounts of impressiveness from a Chris Brown and Tyga track that seemed a lost cause. The core traits remain — ambient hip-hop blends and skewered vocal snippets — though “Salt Carousel” feels as if the massive range of styles on Yeezus have inflected Evian Christ’s evolution. That might not be the case, and there is a sense of club focus which may have developed from all the gigging, yet such an abrasive drop seems to reveal a leap in characteristics. By the time the motif rolls round, things have just become a bit ridiculous and over the top (in the best way). Alarm bells are literally ringing at the end, and for good reason: this won’t just simply do some damage in the club — people might actually physically endanger others in the vicinity.

AkkordHex_ad (Houndstooth, 2013)

Synkro and Indigo eventually emerged from anonymity of their Akkord project, however there was no overt ceremony to it — the Manchester-based pair are nothing if not genuine, coming through on the young, in-house label of London club Fabric. Their self-titled debut is a striking journey through techno and is a considerable success as electronic albums go. There’s the deep, bass-heavy techno as well as beatless fashions and everything in-between, although each piece is executed with the same level of technical, calculated intent. This is certainly one of the more striking things about “Hex_ad”, which attempts to resurrect glitch and paints a pastiche of that increasingly-distant IDM age. Initially just brooding basslines and techno-crackles, Akkord do their best to prevent “Hex_ad” from really kicking in, whether it involves hitting reset halfway through or letting it implode at the end, and listeners’ interests are piqued as they prepare to dive in, rather than actually making the jump. This challenging nature of the song’s structure is an underrated trick in the UK techno scene of today.

MurloAdder (Unknown to the Unknown, 2013)

Unknown to the Unknown is an anomalous label spawned as respite from the current culture of near-ubiquitous productions pared with labels narrowing down into quality over quantity. DJ Haus and his affiliates figure this massive surplus of unreleased tunes kicking about on producers’ hard drives was of no use to anyone, so UTTU exists as a platform for whatever Haus is enjoying in the moment. Amidst the continually widening selection of artists and styles associated with the imprint stands Murlo, who brings a spin on grime to the table. Grime’s seeing something of a resurgence, though the title track of the Adder EP is particularly interesting because it hones in on eskibeat influences, Wiley clicks that aren’t so common these days. Add a dashing of UK Funky into the mix and you’ve got something irresistibly physical and energetic, less intimidating than a lot of the current grimewave and much sweeter with Murlo’s bubbly, charming pipes dancing over the beat. It’s succeeded on the EP by “Irises”, which simultaneously balances amplified aggression and playfulness.

MssingNoSkeezers (Goon Club Allstars, 2013)

Sexiest cut this week goes to MssingNo’s “Skeezers”, kicking off a self-titled EP for Goon Club Allstars, a label seemingly focused on R&B vocal interpolations. As a listener, it’s not a divisive technique, though for producers it can be hard to leave a mark; what with the UK scene being flooded with this style in recent years in the wake of Blawan’s “Getting Me Down”. “Skeezers” manages to maintain a sense of irresistibleness in spite of this — perhaps it’s the way its motif, a slightly pitched, vaguely-familiar-for-no-reason Rihanna line, skips over subtlely with the explicit intention, “make sure you frisk me good / check my panties and my bra.” The first minute is spent dangling that in front of the listener’s ears, and it’s only on repeats one realises the presence of choppy percussion frittering beneath the surface. The bassline steals the show as soon as it drops, jerking necks into motion before an enticingly eerie chiming sequence throws a spin on things. “Skeezers” is far from innocent, but oh so indulging.

MuslimgauzeInfidel Asphyxia 2 (Ant-Zen/Soleilmoon, 2003)

Muslimgauze was the brainchild of Manchester’s Bryn Jones, as a platform for spreading knowledge and a political message through music, centering around the Muslim world. This was all between 1982 and 1999, and I think it’s important to remember a lot of this time was spent without the internet — the information that seeped through to the average household would be streamlined and the open, globalized enlightenment we have today was far out of reach. It seems as if Jones understood that in order to convey his message, simply throwing information at people would not be so effective. What Jones did as Muslimgauze was develop a way of immersing outsiders into another world, another environment they once considered foreign and far off, now in their immediate presence, all around them, enveloping them and including them. Thus was borne dozens and dozens of releases, large volumes of albums breaking ground in experimental, ambient and noise music, influences that are so blatantly present in many of today’s generation of artists.

A huge number of Muslimgauze material recently became available digitally, and one track that caught my attention was “Infidel Asphyxia 2”. Recorded in 1993, the track is one of multiple remixes of “Salaam Alekum, Bastard” and collages warbling sub-bass frequencies with an industrial buzz and snippets of Arab voices. The music strikes like drowsy waves that slowly but surely unsettle, led by outstanding, unnerving and claustrophobic percussion programming, whether it’s isolated tabla moments or clattering snares. Like audible gas, it gradually takes over and fills the areas with its paranoid, disturbed and deranged arrangements. The more and more the track plays through, the less one understands what is happening. “Infidel Asphyxia 2”, and whatever else awaits in the vast discography of Muslimgauze, comes highly recommended, although I believe I’ve listened for too long at once as I’m beginning to rock back and forth, twitching and fidgeting.

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